Friday, June 14, 2024
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New water restrictions for tourist destinations

Despite a welcome dump of rain on Wednesday, Level 3 water restrictions have been applied to households and businesses connected to the Council’s Paihia-Opua-Waitangi and Omanaia-Rawene water supplies from Thursday.

Level 3 restrictions mean it is illegal to use automatic or unattended garden hoses, sprinklers and irrigation devices.

General manager – infrastructure and asset management Andy Finch says a burst of rain this week was very welcome for those lucky enough to receive it, but it was nowhere near enough to recharge water supplies.

"We would need at least five days of solid rain to bring our streams and rivers back to levels where we might reduce water restrictions. We are a long way from considering that, especially with an anticipated surge in demand for water over the Waitangi Day weekend."

He says visitor numbers traditionally spike in both the Bay of Islands and South Hokianga around Waitangi Day. "Our water treatment plants are already operating close to 24 hours a day. This leaves no room for repairs if plant machinery breaks down. The only way to ensure certainty of supply is to conserve water and reduce demand. I’m pleading with all residents and businesses to ensure visitors know how serious water shortages are in the Far North and to make sure they conserve this precious resource while here."

He says the Council is working hard to improve water supplies as quickly as it can.

"A new source for Opononi and Omapere will be online in a matter of days and we are also exploring alternate supplies for our communities in Kaikohe and Kaitaia. That does not reduce the need to conserve water right now. Forecasters say we may not get rain until July, so we all need to prepare for that."

He says the response from residents to the water shortages has been encouraging with a spike in leaks reported and significant reductions in consumption achieved in Rawene (-17 per cent), Kerikeri (-10 per cent) and Okaihau (-28 per cent).

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